Preseason Game 13 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2

Preseason Game 13
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Monday, October 3, 1977
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Seven games into the National Hockey League exhibition schedule, the Toronto Maple Leafs still have not figured out their lineup.

That was the major factor in the Leafs’ 4-2 loss to the Montréal Canadiens before a sellout crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens last night.

“The Canadiens were playing with a set team. They had set lines, set power plays and penalty killers,” said Toronto coach Roger Neilson after Toronto’s second exhibition loss to the Stanley Cup champion.

“On the other hand, we looked like a team disorganized. That was the difference.

“We played with only one regular line tonight (Darryl Sittler between Dave Williams and Lanny McDonald), and when they were on, they managed to control the play. I was satisfied with that,” Neilson said.

He said yesterday’s game was as tough as any in midseason and the effort took its toll on legs as Toronto players struggled to keep stride with the fleet Habs.

The Leafs have three exhibition games left in which to settle a lineup. They play the Sabres in Buffalo tomorrow night, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs in Moncton Thursday, and the Black Hawks in Chicago Sunday.

“We learned something tonight and we’ll be able to make more cuts after Wednesday’s game. There are key decisions to make in a few positions,” Neilson said.

The play of rookie defenceman Trevor Johansen has made him a contender for a position on the Maple Leafs blueline. Last night he scored the opening goal and played a steady physical game.

“The reports on Trevor were that he played tough defensively and cleared people out of the crease, but that he wasn’t too good with the puck. Well, he got a good goal tonight,” Neilson said.

One tough decision was taken off the shoulders of Toronto management yesterday when the league ruled that goaltenders who had played less than three seasons were exempt from the October 10 intra-league draft. The Leafs can hold on to all four goaltenders in camp, protecting Wayne Thomas and Gord McRae and letting Pierre Hamel and Mike Palmateer use their exemptions.

The Leafs scored first on a low drive by rookie Trevor Johansen, on the first power play of the game. The Canadiens came back to lead 2-1 by the end of the first period and 3-1 by the end of the second.

Montréal captain Yvan Cournoyer, showing no sign of his back problems, raced in front of starting Toronto netminder Wayne Thomas to bat a Peter Mahovlich pass into the net.

Guy Lapointe, who directed attacks from the Montréal blueline, smashed in a low line drive on a Montréal power play.

Thomas gave an unwilling assist to Mario Tremblay on the Canadiens’ third goal when he knocked down Yvon Lambert’s pass through the crease. Before he could drop on the puck, Tremblay had ducked it in. Gord McRae then replaced Thomas.

The game had its rough spots, as the Leafs hit frequently in an attempt to slow down the Habs. Defensive hard rock Brian Glennie threw a few hip checks and muscled the Canadiens out of the crease.

Bob Neely threw a heavy check at Mahovlich, but was paid back with one much heavier a few seconds later. The impact left both men on the ice in the Toronto end.

The Canadiens controlled the puck in the first period, outshooting Toronto 14-4. Although the Leafs came back to outshoot Montréal 14-7 in the second, Montréal’s positional play and checking kept it in the lead.

Vézina Trophy winner Ken Dryden played an outstanding game, particularly under pressure during the second period. He made a good double stop on Stan Weir, a skate save on Errol Thompson and a quick grab on a drive from the point by Ian Turnbull.

In the third period, Guy Lafleur scored a goal so beautiful that even the staunchest Toronto supporters stood and cheered. The right winger picked up the puck in the centre zone and wheeled for the Toronto end at top speed. Jim Jones and Glennie looked like pylons marking out a slalom course, so easily did Lafleur threaded around and through them.

He ended the rush by drilling a wrist shot by the legs of McRae, who had made two good stops on him previously. Later, McRae stopped Doug Risebrough on a breakaway and Yvon Lambert on the rebound.

Dave Williams scored for Toronto in the third period, and became embroiled in a fight with Tremblay.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 4, 1977

1st Period
MTL PEN – 05:52 – Hughes
TOR PP GOAL – 05:57 – Johansen (Boudreau)
MTL GOAL – 12:50 – Cournoyer (Lapointe, Mahovlich)
MTL PEN – 14:14 – Lupien
MTL PEN – 17:48 – Hughes
TOR PEN – 17:48 – Williams
TOR PEN – 18:31 – Turnbull
MTL PP GOAL – 19:09 – Lapointe (Risebrough, Tremblay)

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 00:17 – Savard
MTL PEN – 02:25 – team
MTL PEN – 08:30 – Mahovlich, major
TOR PEN – 08:30 – Neely, major
MTL GOAL – 09:14 – Tremblay (Risebrough, Lambert)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 02:24 – team
TOR PEN – 04:17 – Johansen
MTL PP GOAL – 06:14 – Lafleur
TOR GOAL – 10:51 – Williams (Saganiuk, Boudreau)
MTL PEN – 13:12 – Tremblay, major
TOR PEN – 13:12 – Williams, major
MTL PEN – 17:31 – Jarvis
TOR PEN – 17:31 – Boudreau
MTL PEN – 19:59 – Lemaire

MTL – Dryden (W, 22-24)
TOR – Thomas (L, 27-31)

MTL – 14+7+10 = 31
TOR – 4+14+7 = 24